20 years of Photo Münsingen: From a beer idea to a photo festival

What started with a beer in 1998 will celebrate its 2019th anniversary in 20: Photo Münsingen! But one after the other. Ueli Wälti wrote a vision based on the beer idea. It should be something big with exhibitions, slide lectures and seminars. With photo clubs and photographers from all over Switzerland. Even more, an international photo festival. To this end, Bern Airport is to be expanded and the runway extended so that photographers and visitors can travel around the world. Münsingen as a creative meeting point for photographers. A vision!

In 1999 the vision initially turned into a pilot event “Photo Days Münsingen”. This enabled the concept to be tested, the members of the Münsingen photo club to be convinced and won over to work. Eight photo clubs showed their most beautiful pictures in the Schlossgutsaal during the ascent days. The exhibition was a success, the feedback from the participating clubs was encouraging and the visitors enthusiastic. The foundation stone for planning the first Photo Münsingen was laid. In voluntary work we created additional exhibition infrastructure, got support from the Münsingen community, looked for sponsors, created concepts, plans and budgets.

The first Photo Münsingen in 2000

Photo Münsingen was held for the first time on the ascent days, from June 1st to 4th, 2000, with the three pillars exhibitions, slide presentations and seminars. The theme of the first club competition was "Sunday". 16 photo clubs were already there. Including the clubs from Belp, Solothurn, Thun and Blende 8, which have always strongly supported the Münsingen photo club since then. Josef von Mentlen and Walter Gaberthül presented creative work and the Münsingen Photo Club also showed the pictures from the annual competition. Audiovisual slide presentations and seminars rounded off the 1st Photo Münsingen. 1 people interested in photography were enthusiastic about the new forum and encouraged us to continue. Much has proven itself since the first implementation. Every year the best club work is honored with the “Photo Münsingen Award”.

Visitors can choose their personal favorites and win great prizes. And the members of the Münsingen Photo Club are given the opportunity to present the pictures from the annual competition for their commitment. The event has taken place since the beginning of the ascension week, and thanks to sponsors, admission is still free.

Highlights from 20 years of Photo Münsingen

Club exhibitions

Every year around 60 photo clubs and photo teams from all over Switzerland take part in the competition for the “Photo Münsingen Award”. The challenge of working on a given topic as a team is demanding, exciting and enriches club life. Initially, the pictures of the clubs were sent in, framed and hung according to their specifications. Recently the clubs have been delivering their data digitally and the tableaus are created by Photo Münsingen. At the vernissage everyone is eagerly awaiting the award ceremony and the presentation of the coveted “Photo Münsingen Award”. The Sense Photo Club won the first issue on the subject of “Sunday”. We maintain close contacts with the photo clubs we are friends with from Riedisheim (F) and Kirchzarten (D) and exhibit each other's pictures. Other clubs, teams and photo schools regularly present their work at Photo Münsingen.

Creative solo exhibitions

Over the past 20 years, over 400 photo exhibitions have been presented in the ideal Schlossgut area in Münsingen. New locations were constantly being added. The outdoor exhibitions connect the nine buildings and create the unique ambience. The selection of photographers and the placement of the exhibitions is exciting and the encounters with creative personalities are always extremely interesting and enriching.

The exhibitions by Thomas Ulrich with the exhibition "Cerro Torre", the encounter with Fernand "Sepp" Rausser and with 12 Bernese photographers on the subject of "paradises" are unforgettable.
Then the large-format flower portraits of Alfons Iseli in the castle, Indrich Streit, he exhibited for the first time under the new umbrellas on the Schlossgutplatz.

Miroslav Stibor, another photographer from the Czech Republic, metamorphoses by Elena Martynuk and underwater fantasies by Sergey Buslenko, both from the Ukraine, sports photos by Andreas Blatter, wildlife and nature photos by Lorenz A. Fischer.

From Germany, then the creative exhibitions by Thomas Herbrich and Uli Staiger. The federal photographer Hansueli Trachsel in the Schlossallee. The large-format impressions of the Chinese Leo KK Wong in the flower house and aesthetic nude photography by Christoph Ris, Romel Janeski and Martin Zurmühle.

The «Winter Spirits of Hokkaido» by Martin Eisenhawer in the flower house, the Indian portraits by Christian Heeb in the Schlossallee will not be forgotten. Then the emotional exhibition “The Eye of Love” by the great Swiss photographer René Groebli and the portraits of sailors by Maud Bernos. Large-format landscapes by Martin Mägli and Sandro Diener, creative exhibitions by photographers from Turkey, France, Italy, England and Greece. Henna and Arthur Honegger with “Ach Amiland” on Schlossgutplatz and the portraits of Beat Mumenthaler on Allee. In the youth center Spycher, young talents were given the opportunity to present their work to a broad public.

Digital exhibitions

From 2011 the print exhibitions were expanded to include the digital Photo Arena. The team volunteered to construct an arena with 12 screens. Now a further 10 authors were able to present digital exhibitions each year. The best pictures from the annual PHOTOSUISSE competition will also be presented.

Audiovisual presentations

What began 20 years ago as slide presentations with rattling projectors, has developed over the years into sophisticated digital audio-visual shows. Firstly, the popular multivisions from distant countries and the animal and plant world, such as “Unter Bären” by David Bittner, “Earth Extreme” by Carsten Peter and “El Conor Sur” by Urs Wohlwend. Then the creative short shows that merge photography with text and music into a new dimension of presentation.

Workshops and lectures

Actively conveying and developing knowledge about photography was a strategic goal from the start. Hard to believe, but in the first Photo Münsingen seminars on toning and coloring pictures were offered. The first courses in digital photography followed quickly. Often it was exhibiting photographers who passed on their knowledge in courses. The program offered the full spectrum of photography: image composition, portrait photography, studio and nude photography, macro, landscape and animal photography, still life and, and, and. With increasing digitization, digital image processing with Photoshop and Lightroom were also a hit. Even Calvin Hollywood paid his respects in Münsingen. Andri Pol led a reportage workshop and active photography was always in the foreground in Chritoph Ris and Martin Zurmühle's photography courses. The photographers present gave more and more interesting lectures about their work and working methods.


The program also always contained surprising and creative special events: a slide show in 3D, the large camera obscura of the photo club Thun, drone photography, the exhibition and live body painting by Johannes Stötter and the nostalgia studio with wet plate courses by Peter Michels are just a few of them.

The sponsors

Sponsoring is based on performance and consideration. We are fortunate that we can count on long-term partnerships over the years. AGFA was a sponsor from the very beginning. In 2000 Walter Weber spontaneously supported the first “Photo Münsingen” project. With the digital development, film production had to be shut down and collaboration stopped. In 2014 the paths crossed again with Walter Weber. Now head of the Photo Division Switzerland at Fujifilm. Foto Video Zumstein Bern, Nikon, Fujifilm and Cewe are the main sponsors of the last few years. Close and friendly partnerships have been established with many other sponsors.

The more than 4 photo-savvy visitors each year and the unique atmosphere at Photo Münsingen convinced the partners to support our project. Ultimately, such occasions arouse enthusiasm for photos, cameras and technology. The Münsingen community is also involved financially and materially. At this point a big thank you to the sponsors and partners for the great commitment and the very pleasant cooperation.

The organization of Photo Münsingen

Photo Münsingen is part of the Münsingen Photo Club. At the beginning the responsibility lay with the board of directors. With the annual growth of Photo Münsingen, the organization team was also expanded to include specialists outside the club. Without the support of the photo clubs Belp, Thun, Solothurn, Blende 8 and many helpers from other clubs, the Photo Münsingen would be inconceivable. The OK is now active throughout the year. After Photo Münsingen is before Photo Münsingen. In retrospect, it is almost unbelievable how many new exhibition locations have arisen in the entire Münsingen castle estate and how new infrastructure has been implemented with passion and know-how.

The Münsingen Photo Club itself also benefits enormously from Photo Münsingen. The number of members has risen to 60. As a highlight, the photo club won the “Photo Münsingen Award” in 2009 and was also awarded the Münsingen community's culture prize.

The magical power of a vision

The vision has long been a reality. A unique photo forum was created from the beer idea. Photo Münsingen has established itself over the last 20 years. Every year it inspires visitors and photographers from all over Switzerland and abroad. We have succeeded in creating a creative and inspiring platform for photography in the Schlossgut area, which enables the exchange and discussion of the various facets of photography. This is very important to us and is what makes Photo Münsingen so attractive.

We would like to thank everyone who has contributed their full commitment to the success over the years.

Niklaus Messer


Leave a comment

Participate in the discussion?
Leave us your comment!

Leave a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.

This website uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn more about how your comment data is processed.